In our new location, I have found many new things. Running around the neighborhood in late spring, I spotted something that I had heard so much about in readings on “new forager cuisine”, but never spotted while living in the city – spruce tips.
Once the tiny spruce tree in our backyard sprouted new bright green tips, I no longer had to worry about neighbors spotting me snipping their spruce trees. Our little tree yielded about a cup of spruce tips which was not enough for much. My initial thoughts were a compound butter or vinegar. After drinking the last of my rhubarb bitters shortly before moving, I thought spruce tips might make delicious bitters and I knew that I would not need much to make enough to last for a long time.
It was an interesting (confounding) decision as I had finished a bottle of gin and was looking for another, but wanted specifically something with less juniper. Why would I decide to make bitters that are based on a similar flavor? As it ended up, the spruce tip bitters tasted far less like gin than I expected.
To me, it is closer to a cross between lemon, mint and rosemary than the pine-juniper flavor that I expected. The first crack I had at the spruce tip bitters was in soda water on one of the 100 degree days this past week. It was incredibly refreshing without playing any notes of Gordon’s Gin.
While spruce tip season is long past, this was an interesting and worthy undertaking.
Spruce Tip Bitters
- 1 cup spruce tips
- 1/2 star anise
- 2 cardamom pods
- 1 teaspoon coriander
- Zest from 1/2 grapefruit
- 1 cup vodka
Step one: Combine all ingredients in a jar. Shake every few days for a month.
Step two: Strain into a bottle/jar.